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Integrated Circuits IC
An integrated circuit ;(IC), also called a microelectronic circuit, microchip, or chip, is an assembly of electronic components, fabricated as a single unit, in which miniaturized active devices (e.g., transistors and diodes) and passive devices (e.g., capacitors and resistors) and their interconnections are built upon a thin substrate of semiconductor material (typically silicon). The resulting circuit is thus a small monolithic “chip,” which may be as small as a few square centimeters or only a few square millimeters. The individual circuit components are generally microscopic in size.
Integrated Circuits IC has two main advantages over discrete circuits: cost and performance. The cost is low because the chips, with all their components, are printed as a unit by photolithography rather than being constructed one transistor at a time. Furthermore, packaged ICs use much less material than discrete circuits. Performance is high because the IC's components switch quickly and consume comparatively little power because of their small size and proximity. The main disadvantage of ICs is the high cost of designing them and fabricating the required photomasks. This high initial cost means ICs are only commercially viable when high production volumes are anticipated.
A microcontroller ;is a compact integrated circuit designed to govern a specific operation in an embedded system. A typical microcontroller includes a processor, memory, and input/output (I/O) peripherals on a single chip.
Sometimes referred to as an embedded controller or microcontroller unit (MCU), microcontrollers are found in vehicles, robots, office machines, medical devices, mobile radio transceivers, vending machines, and home appliances, among other devices. They are essentially simple miniature personal computers (PCs) designed to control small features of a larger component, without a complex front-end operating system (OS).
How do microcontrollers work?
A microcontroller is embedded inside of a system to control a singular function in a device. It does this by interpreting data it receives from its I/O peripherals using its central processor. The temporary information that the microcontroller receives is stored in its data memory, where the processor accesses it and uses instructions stored in its program memory to decipher and apply the incoming data. It then uses its I/O peripherals to communicate and enact the appropriate action.
Microcontrollers are used in a wide array of systems and devices. Devices often utilize multiple microcontrollers that work together within the device to handle their respective tasks.
For example, a car might have many microcontrollers that control various individual systems within, such as the anti-lock braking system, traction control, fuel injection, or suspension control. All the microcontrollers communicate with each other to inform the correct actions. Some might communicate with a more complex central computer within the car, and others might only communicate with other microcontrollers. They send and receive data using their I/O peripherals and process that data to perform their designated tasks.